Wear the mask of your choice…or, when I knocked at death’s door.

Cancer causes complications. Hospital stays cause complications. One of mine was pneumonia.

I required an 80% oxygen push in order to breathe. The normal size nose plug delivery system wasn’t strong enough. The larger nose plug delivery system was iffy, but they…the professionals…would try, but if my oxygen levels didn’t stabilize, rise, it would be the full oxygen mask.

The one I panicked and fought when put on me for a handful of seconds. The one I couldn’t see past. The one that clouded my vision of everyone around me. The claustrophobic one. The one my arms and hands became their own uncontrollable flaying entities trying to get it off of me. I think my legs kicked out, but that memory is fuzzy.

If not that, then…ventilation, incubation. 

*&%#)*^   &#&$((#@ DAMN SHIT HELL, no one I ever knew who had had that done, lived. That was my last vision of my dad before he died.

ICU, in a March roughly sixteen years ago, was where and when my dad died with a tracheostomy tube. I was in ICU three years March…dying.  Yes, I was knocking on that final door.

My do not resuscitate order went on record. 

I had to see my husband cry while agreeing with my decision on my life. I had to see my mom fight not to cry while agreeing with my decision on my life. I had to explain to my sixteen year-old daughter why I made this decision on my life.

I listened as my roommate struggled, choked, panicked with her tube. The sucking noise of clearing it is forever seared in my memory. Her strangled cries I still hear.

I know, now, that ventilation, incubation, isn’t a death sentence, but it sure as hell ain’t easy. It’s not something I ever want to experience or struggle to control my panic over. I sure as hell don’t want to be medically knocked out not knowing what’s happening around me, if I will ever wake and breathe under my own power.

So, I’ll struggle with wearing a simple cloth mask and it is a struggle, for me. I’m claustrophobic. I fear not being able to breathe.

I barely made it through holding one over my face when my picc line was cleaned. A semi-permanent tube that lead directly to over my heart for my chemo treatment, that when uncapped for cleaning was an open passage to my most vital organs. Thank you, my professional nurses for knowing how to take care of me.

I understand the anxiety and other causing struggles to wearing a mask in today’s world…fight through it. Search for alternative ways to do what use to be so simple. The other masks you might end up needing are far worse.

I don’t want to face that ever again, so I will fight and struggle with you in wearing the simplest of masks.

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